MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

The orgone accumulator (ORAC) is an invention of the psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich which he developed along with his ‘orgone hypothesis’ while residing in the US from 1939 on. It is a device that is used to collect the hypothetical ‘orgone energy’ from the environment and to concentrate it.

One provider of the ORAC claims he had received the exact building instructions in interviews with Wilhelm Reich. The conversation with the deceased Reich was allegedly realized with the assistance of a medium and in close cooperation with angels. Since his death, Reich allegedly has been able to vastly improve the ORAC. The correct arrangement of eight rose quartzes in every corner is said to be essential. The book “Der Engel-Energie-Akkumulator nach Wilhelm Reich” (The Angel-Energy-Accumulator by Wilhelm Reich) does not only quote the late Reich, but also Archangel Raphael and Jesus Christ have their say.

Wilhelm Reich developed the ORAC believing that the box trapped orgone energy that he could harness in groundbreaking approaches towards psychiatry, medicine, the social sciences, biology, and weather research. His discovery of orgone began with his research of a physical bio-energy basis for Sigmund Freud’s theories of neurosis in humans. Wilhelm Reich believed that traumatic experiences blocked the natural flow of life energy in the body, leading to physical and mental disease. Reich concluded that the Freudian libidinal energy was the primordial energy of life itself, connected to more than just sexuality. Orgone was everywhere and Reich measured this energy in motion over the surface of the earth and even determined that its motion affected weather formation.

In 1940, Wilhelm Reich constructed the first ORAC: a six-sided box constructed of alternating layers of organic materials (to attract the energy) and metallic materials (to radiate the energy toward the center of the box). Patients would sit inside the ORAC and absorb the energy through their skin and lungs. The accumulator allegedly had beneficial effects on blood and body tissue by improving life-energy flow and releasing energy blocks.

But Reich’s work with cancer patients and the ORAC received negative press and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) sent an agent to investigate Reich’s research center. In 1954, the FDA issued an injunction against Reich, claiming that he had violated the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by delivering misbranded and adulterated devices in interstate commerce and by making false and misleading claims. The FDA called the ORAC a sham and orgone energy non-existent. A judge ordered all accumulators rented or owned by Reich and those working with him destroyed and all labeling referring to orgone energy to be destroyed. Two years later, Reich was imprisoned for contempt of the injunction. On November 3, 1957, Wilhelm Reich died in his jail cell of heart failure. In his last will and testament, he ordered that his works be sealed for fifty years, in hopes that the world would someday be a place better to accept his work.

The FBI does have a whole section on its website dedicated to Wilhelm Reich. This is what they had to say:

This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich’s communist commitments. In 1947, a security investigation concluded that neither the Orgone Project nor any of its staff were engaged in subversive activities or were in violation of any statue within the jurisdiction of the FBI. In 1954 the U.S. Attorney General filed a complaint seeking permanent injunction to prevent interstate shipment of devices and literature distributed by Dr. Reich’s group. That same year, Dr. Reich was arrested for a Contempt of Court for violation of the Attorney General’s injunction.

The Wilhelm Reich Orgon Institut Deutschland currently state that they have been able to teach some Americans the proper way to build an ORAC:

Our teacher has been Dr. Walter Hoppe, the best student of Wilhelm Reich. He had lived over 40 years in Israel, and had done there very successful work with the orgone accumulator. Since 1974 he has been teaching psychiatric orgone therapy and the construction of the orgone accumulator in Germany.

So the triumphal procession of this model was starting up there. Dr. Hoppe gave the construction of the accumulator in the hands of Joachim Trettin. He said: orgone therapy is for few people while the orgone accumulator is for everybody. Meanwhile the Americans orientate themselves by this model today. So this accumulator is the best you can get.

We produce this accumulator with 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 double layers. Every accumulator has a autonomous shooter which you can take out and use separately.

We also offer the accumulator with a breast and pelvis shield. We have a special packaging and ship our accumulator to every part of the world.

The orgone accumulator with 20- double layers, inside dimensions 120 x 70 x 55 cm, is available for the price of  7,250 EUR

13 Responses to The weird story of Wilhelm Reich’s ‘Orgone Accumulator’

  • On the plus side it was also the inspiration for Kate Bush’s song “Cloudbusting”, so not all bad.

    Anyone know any songs about homeopathy or acupuncture?

  • I ordered an Orgon-Generator Pyramid via amazone some years ago, for 1,5 € including shipping cost for 6 €. I was only nosey how it would look like. I received a pyramid square 7 cm about 5 cm high.
    It was described as Orgonit made of 7 chakra precious stones and metals.
    The pyramid converts negative energy in to positive endergy.

    But how should this work? Long ago I learned in school that E=mxc². m is always positive, light velocity ist also positive, so engergy is always positiv. After the pyramid was sent to me, amazon asked me, if I could rate the pyramid.

    I wrote back, that I was only interested how this nasty esoteric pyramid looks like. Then amazon wrote back that they were unable to post my comment.

    • @wolfgang M
      Well, congrats with the purchase of your novel paperweight! For less than 10 bucks it’s indeed a fun curiosity.

      In physics, energy is simply the capability to do work, and can be attributed to matter in several ways (kinetic energy, chemical energy, potential energy etcetera).
      Energy indeed always has a positive value from our macroscopic point of view; negative energy is only posited as a way to resolve problems with so-called zero-point energy (a.k.a. vacuum energy). This of course has attracted lots of alternative loonies who claim to be able to tap into that vacuum energy source. Strangely, their devices and ‘theories’ invariably fail(*) when scrutinized by real scientists.

      Then again, the above physical definition of energy of course completely differs from what the alternative universe means by ‘energy’ – but so far, they have not succeeded in proving the existence of their energy, and they don’t even have a remotely consistent definition of this ‘energy’ of theirs.

      The E=mc² formula has no use in daily life, as that mass-bound energy is only released when mass is converted into energy, and that only happens in nuclear reactions and in particle accelerators.

      *: Which is probably a good thing, given that estimates of the vacuum energy per cubic meter volume of empty space far exceed the total energy output of our sun. So far, not a single DIY vacuum energy adherent has managed to turn their basement into even a small crater with their invention.

      • “Every second, the Sun’s core fuses about 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium, and in the process converts 4 million tons of matter into energy.”
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun

        Yielding a power output ≈ 3.85×10²⁶ W, 385 quadrillion gigawatts (short scale).

      • Richard,

        The E=mc² formula has no use in daily life, as that mass-bound energy is only released when mass is converted into energy, and that only happens in nuclear reactions and in particle accelerators

        When I was working our hospital had six particle accelerators in daily use for treating our cancer patients.

        We also had a PET scanner, which uses the annihilation energy of positrons interacting with electrons for assessing the extent of their disease. The radioactive fluorine-17 in the tracer is made in a cyclotron, but the energy is released within the patient’s body.

        I have smoke detectors at home which rely on radioactive decay (I don’t know whether they contain polonium or americium) to generate alpha particles; they are absorbed by smoke and the interruption to ionisation within the detector triggers the alarm. The energy carried by the particles is equivalent to the mass lost when the nucle igenerating them decay.

        SatNav devices wouldn’t work without taking into account the fact that time runs more slowly on the surface of the earth than it does in the weaker gravitational field at the altitude of the satellites that it relies on, though the corrections to the timing signals use Special Relativity, whereas E=mc² is derived from General Relativity.

        Of course I don’t have to perform the calculations myself any more than I have to design my own television, so in that sense I don’t need to know Einstein’s equation, but the same physical principles govern our everyday world whether or not we understand them.

        Wolfgang,

        But how should this work? Long ago I learned in school that E=mxc². m is always positive, light velocity ist also positive, so engergy is always positiv.

        Velocity is a vector quantity, so it always has direction and can therefore be positive or negative. The speed of light (c), however is a constant which happens to be positive and is unchanged no matter what frame of reference you use to measure it against. It is not only the speed of light but the speed limit for the universe (including for transmission of energy) and the only speed that a massless particle of any sort can have. E=mc², however, decsribes an equivalence between mass and energy, and the conversion between them can happen in either direction, so if mass is lost in a reaction then energy is gained and vice versa. If you use the equation to calculate what is happening in a specific situation then either side can be positive or negative.

        Negative energy is a concept derived from variables used in equations describing the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe, but nobody has come up with any credible explanation of what it actually represents. However, E=mc² tells us that if it exists then there is more of it than dark matter and observed matter combined. Dark matter itself is another concept derived from equations describing the rotation of galaxies and is there to explain why they are able to rotate as fast as they do without falling apart, as gravitation due to matter alone isn’t enough to hold them together. Again nobody knows what it is. Though it is quite possible that somebody may one day come up with some new physics which describes the same observations without the necessity for either dark matter or dark energy at all; there are fundamental contradictions between relativity and quantum theory, so we know that at least one of the two theories needs to be modified.

        And as we all know, there are also people who believe in magic but realise that it would be foolish to admit it. Instead they use the words “energy” and “quantum” in the expectation that nobody they are talking to understands these terms any better than they do themselves.

        • Dr Julian Money-Kyrle:

          SatNav devices wouldn’t work without taking into account the fact that time runs more slowly on the surface of the earth than it does in the weaker gravitational field at the altitude of the satellites that it relies on, though the corrections to the timing signals use Special Relativity, whereas E=mc² is derived from General Relativity.

          GPS timing requires correction for both General and Special Relativity, and Einstein derived E = mc2 from Special Relativity, not from General Relativity. The derivation of the matter/energy equivalence is in A. Einstein, Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig? (Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon its Energy-Content?), Annalen der Physik 1905, though not in its now well-known form.

          Einstein didn’t publish on General Relativity until 1916.

          https://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/E_mc2/www/ (English translation of Ist die Trägheit …)

        • Julian, I remember that you have sometimes shown interest in my comments. Perhaps the following will interest you and the readers.

          JM-K wrote “The energy carried by the [smoke detector americium alpha] particles is equivalent to the mass lost when the nuclei generating them decay“.

          Not really, because the emitted alpha particles end up being kinetically absorbed, not annihilated. The emitted alpha particles have a speed of ~5% of the speed of light and a kinetic energy of ~5.5 MeV, which is ~0.15% the mass–energy equivalence of an alpha particle: ~3.727 GeV/c².

          For example, an electron and a positron, each with a mass of 0.511 MeV/c², can annihilate to yield 1.022 MeV of energy. A proton has a mass of 0.938 GeV/c². In general, the masses of all hadrons are of the order of 1 GeV/c², which makes the GeV/c² a convenient unit of mass for particle physics:

          1 GeV/c² = 1.78266192×10^(−27) kg.

          The atomic mass constant (mu), one twelfth of the mass a carbon‑12 atom, is close to the mass of a proton. To convert to electronvolt mass‑equivalent, use the formula:

          mu = 1 Da = 931.4941 MeV/c² = 0.9314941 GeV/c².
          Electronvolt, Wikipedia

          JM-K wrote “Velocity is a vector quantity, so it always has direction and can therefore be positive or negative“.

          Using a 2D Cartesian coordinate system (aka: rectangular coordinate system; orthogonal coordinate system)…

          The magnitude or radius of a spatial vector is always a positive scalar quantity. The magnitude of a velocity is speed.

          E.g., the magnitude of 2D velocity (−3, −4) =
          √( (−3)² + (−4)² ) = +5

          This 2D velocity can be described, conveniently, using either rectangular or polar coordinates:
          • rectangular (x, y)= (−3, −4)
          • polar (speed, direction)= (5, −126.87°)

          In everyday use and in kinematics, the speed (commonly referred to as v) of an object is the magnitude of the change of its position over time or the magnitude of the change of its position per unit of time; it is thus a scalar quantity.

          Speed has the dimensions of distance divided by time. The SI unit of speed is the metre per second (m/s)…
          — Speed, Wikipedia

          Anyway, this is irrelevant to E=mc² because c² is always positive, even if c were to be negative.

          ————————

          JM-K wrote “SatNav devices wouldn’t work without taking into account the fact that time runs more slowly on the surface of the earth than it does in the weaker gravitational field at the altitude of the satellites that it relies on, though the corrections to the timing signals use Special Relativity, whereas E=mc² is derived from General Relativity“.
          I’ve reminded you of those errors before [my formatting]:

          The theory of relativity usually encompasses two interrelated theories by Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity, proposed and published in 1905 and 1915, respectively.

          Special relativity applies to all physical phenomena in the absence of gravity.

          General relativity explains the law of gravitation and its relation to the forces of nature.

          Theory of relativity, Wikipedia

          Mass–energy equivalence arose from special relativity as a paradox described by the French polymath Henri Poincaré (1854–1912). Einstein was the first to propose the equivalence of mass and energy as a general principle and a consequence of the symmetries of space and time. The principle first appeared in “Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy-content?”, one of his annus mirabilis papers, published on 21 November 1905. The formula and its relationship to momentum, as described by the energy–momentum relation, were later developed by other physicists.

          Mass–energy equivalence, Wikipedia

          In physics and relativity, time dilation is the difference in the elapsed time as measured by two clocks. It is either due to a relative velocity between them (special relativistic “kinetic” time dilation) or to a difference in gravitational potential between their locations (general relativistic gravitational time dilation). When unspecified, “time dilation” usually refers to the effect due to velocity.

          Gravitational time dilation is at play e.g. for ISS astronauts. While the astronauts’ relative velocity slows down their time, the reduced gravitational influence at their location speeds it up, although to a lesser degree.

          Time dilation, Wikipedia

          ————————

          JM-K wrote “The speed of light (c), however is a constant which happens to be positive and is unchanged no matter what frame of reference you use to measure it against. It is not only the speed of light but the speed limit for the universe (including for transmission of energy) and the only speed that a massless particle of any sort can have“.

          You need the qualifiers: Only in vacuum; and Einstein’s special theory of relativity defines only an upper bound on the speed of light, not a lower bound.

          With best wishes,
          Pete

  • I’d heard of the Orgone Accumulator (think I must have seen some documentary, years ago). Maybe it kind of represents a more modern version of James Graham’s Celestial Bed…… https://knowledgenuts.com/unsettling-celestial-bed-that-would-cure-all-your-ailments/

  • From what I have read, it was not Dr Reich who shipped the orgone accumulator across state lines which led to his arrest. It was a colleague. In Wikipedia they say that 6 tons of his writings and papers were burned. The Skeptic community must be very happy about this.

    • The Skeptic community must be very happy about this. [book burning]

      Yes, we are absolutely elated! We love burning books and prohibiting the spread of novel ideas! And of course we’re censoring anyone who doesn’t say what we like!
      Just look at this blog: anyone can see that every day, hundreds or even thousands of comments are censored – including all the ones coming from you!

      • stan,

        We skeptics absolutely love book burning! Fahrenheit SCAM!

        Richard,

        Remember, earlier this month we gathered at Professor’s house for a SCAM book burning ceremony and burned a bunch of Hahnemann’s first editions. Professor entertained us with his favorite Bordeaux wine. We all got drunk and danced around the fire, such a fun time. We should do it again. Next time I propose we burn Palmer’s first editions.

        P.S: We made mother tincture out of ashes.

        P.P.S: stan, if you would like some of that mother tincture, let me know.

    • What this sad story confirms is that, unlike us, ‘stan’, Wilhelm Reich did not have just one experience with shiatsu.

      See our testimonials on Shiatsu has positive effects on internal tension, sleep, social interaction, attention, etc. – true or false?. Reich was in dire need of help with: internal tension; social interaction (especially with judges); and attention (to detail).

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